Swedish auto maker Volvo, a unit of US giant Ford Motor Company, said Monday it would invest 3.5 billion kronor (422 million euros, 407 million dollars) in operations at Ghent, Belgium.
Volvo said it had selected the city of Ghent for the development and construction of its new mid-range models planned to succeed the S/V40 model.

The investment will create 1,800 new jobs to increase production capacity to 325,000 cars a year, compared with its current output of 160,000 cars, the company said at a press conference.

It also will invest one billion kronor in its unit in Torslanda in western Sweden, to boost capacity to 230,000 units from a current 170,000.

In Germany on Monday, Opel - the German arm of US car giant General Motors Corp. - said it was able to narrow its operating losses in 1999 and aimed to return to profit this year as restructuring measures begin to bear fruit.

Opel said in a statement that it sustained an operating loss of 225 million (115 million euros, 110 million dollars) last year, compared with a loss of 344 million marks a year earlier.

After tax, however, Opel posted a net loss of 81 million marks in 1999, compared with net profit of 576 million marks a year earlier, the statement said.

Finance chief Hennig Klages predicted that Opel would be able to return to profit this year.